Judging Java: Uptown Coffee

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

4 Globes out of 5


A short five-minute walk from the Mount Lebanon T station sits Uptown Coffee. You might be thinking to yourself: Mount Lebanon, that’s a bit of a way to go for coffee. And you’re right, it is a bit of a way to go for coffee, but Uptown Coffee is definitely worth going to at least once.

Part of the reason that I’m reviewing Uptown Coffee right now is that I’ve been reviewing female-owned coffee shops for International Women’s History Month, which brings me to something I need to address. Technically, yes, the owner and founder of this coffee shop, Elizabeth Boyd, is, by definition, an “uptown girl.” However, I cannot speak on if she is living in an uptown world, or if she’s ever had a backstreet guy or anything else that the Billy Joel song says that the titular uptown girl does.

Onto the actual shop. It pains me that the ongoing pandemic has changed how many coffee shops are able to operate. A year ago, people would be sitting at their laptops, chatting, and enjoying their coffee. These have since been replaced by a standing room only.

That being said, Uptown Coffee is a hot spot. Not a hotspot like a place where you will be exposed to the pandemic, and no, not a hotspot like their coffee is way too hot (it’s actually a relatively standard temperature). They’re a hot spot as in they are incredibly popular. When I went for my cup, there was a long line, and it was very busy. Despite the crowd, they were able to get my coffee to me very quickly—so props to them for that.

The actual coffee was well above average. It was a lighter blend, but not as light as some of the blends I’ve reviewed before. In terms of flavor, it was bitter (like all black coffee, I honestly don’t know if it’s even worth pointing out that it’s bitter at this point, if you don’t know that it’s bitter, then maybe this column isn’t for you) but it had very fruity overtones. It’s a cup of coffee I would definitely drink again.

I’ve also gotten cappuccinos from Uptown Coffee before, and while this column is specifically reviewing black coffee, I am a fan of their cappuccinos. In order to make this fair, I’m not going to be incorporating my opinion on their cappuccinos into my score of the cup, but I will tell you this much: get a cappuccino with vanilla and butterscotch syrup, extra foam. You can thank me later.

Uptown Coffee is also well known for their pastries, which are baked fresh in the store. I’m not really a huge pastry guy, but their muffins are pretty good. If you like muffins, try theirs. Or don’t, I’m not your boss.

I was planning to tie this all together in the final paragraph of this review by doing a callback to the Uptown Girl joke from the second paragraph, but there really aren’t any lyrics from that song (or Bill Joel in general) that work as a closer to a coffee column, so I’m moving out.